A great way to get yourself in the right frame of mind for writing is to read poetry, and it’s also a great way to focus your attention on word choice and improve the quality of your writing. Here, I’ve made it easy for you!
You Take My Hand Margaret Atwood
You take my hand and I’m suddenly in a bad movie, it goes on and on and why am I fascinated
We waltz in slow motion through an air stale with aphorisms we meet behind endless potted palms you climb through the wrong windows
Other people are leaving but I always stay till the end I paid my money, I want to see what happens.
In chance bathtubs I have to peel you off me in the form of smoke and melted celluloid
Have to face it I’m finally an addict, the smell of popcorn and worn plush lingers for weeks
You’ve moved into an older neighborhood and the first day after the move, a neighbor knocks on your door with a complaint about how you are parking your car. This is obviously a very difficult person. Write the dialogue about the complaint and then sketch out a plan for making friends with this neighbor.
What does your astrological sign say about your writing? What will help and what will hinder you on your journey to finish a draft of a novel? We’ve put together a fun chart to predict how your November will go, complete with writing prompts!
Aries (March 21 – April 19)
Bold and determined, you dive right into every ambitious challenge—including NaNoWriMo. Sometimes you plan, but you prefer to charge forward into the month armed with nothing more than your pen. You may be tempted to throw the occasional writing-related temper tantrum, but remember: the first draft is supposed to be a mess. Just breathe deep and channel that fearless Aries within. You got this.
Prompt: Something explodes (literally or metaphorically) in your next scene.
Taurus (April 20 – May 20)
You enjoy the finer things in life. In a perfect world, you’d write your novel while reclining on a sofa, sipping cappuccinos and nibbling on dark chocolate. Heck, maybe you’d even dictate it. But you’re also not afraid to roll up your sleeves and type your way through a plot hole. What others see as stubbornness you see as persistence—either way, it’s going to take you to 50K. Just remember to treat yourself when the going gets tough.
Prompt: Channel your bull in a china shop—cram something big into a small space in your next scene.
Gemini (May 21 – June 20)
You’re so busy this month, it feels like you’ll need to double yourself to reach your word-count goal. But then again, you’re busy every month—it’s not your fault you have so many passions! Your novel is governed by Mercury, the messenger god, and you fly from one idea to the next, always racing ahead to the next plot point or twist. Stick to one novel, and you’ll wing your way to November 30.
Prompt: Gemini are known for being chatty, so in your next scene, give a character a non-stop monologue. Let no amount of interruptions stop their flow!
Cancer (June 21 – July 22)
You’re intuitive and caring. You pick up on feelings and vibes not everyone notices, and it’s important for you to create a safe, cozy space, both for living and for writing (pillow fort noveling den, anyone?). Just like you, your characters might take a little time and extra attention to open up, but keep at it! They’ll surprise you with hidden depth.
Prompt: Cancer is a water sign, represented by a crab. In your next scene, fully submerge a character (bonus points if you keep their eyes open).
Leo (July 23 – August 22)
Look, was NaNoWriMo made for you or was made it for you? It’s the ideal opportunity to indulge your joy in the spotlight, while also flexing your secret superpower: loyal consistency. Draw on your natural storytelling ability when you’re confronted by the blank page. Be careful, though: it’s going to be incredibly easy for you to neglect your writing (and your creative self) for social events. This month, let your characters bask in your light. Your friends love you, and they’ll wait.
Prompt: Give a minor character some time to shine. Color in their backstory, give them a heroic moment, or even just a particularly fun piece of dialogue.
Virgo (August 23 – September 22)
You approach NaNoWriMo the same way you approach everything else: with a logical, practical determination and a schedule that has every detail planned out. But the skills that help you succeed can also occasionally hold you back: remember that this is a first draft, and it most certainly won’t be perfect. Learn to embrace the flaws of your writing and leave room for improvisation as you make your way to 50K.
Prompt: Throw your cautious side to the wind, and take your hero on a totally unplanned (and unexpected) side quest for a chapter.
Libra (September 23 – October 22)
You’re great at juggling lots of things at once: creative projects, social engagements, relationships, work, school… the list goes on. While you’ve definitely got things under control and are great at starting new initiatives, balancing so many things can lead to indecision or fizzling out when the shininess of a new project wears off. Don’t let yourself get distracted, Libra. Keep working toward your writing goal—it’ll be worth it, we promise.
Prompt: Write a scene with actual juggling (the weirder the juggling objects, the better!)
Scorpio (October 23 – November 21)
You may play it cool when people ask you about your novel, but deep down all you really want is for others to love your story as much as you do. Your writing is passionate and genuine, but sharing it sometimes makes you feel a little too vulnerable. Don’t be afraid to ask for help this month, writer. This is your year to get to 50K—and maybe finally finish that novel idea you’ve been mulling over for the past five years.
Prompt: Still waters run deep: Have a character who is usually very rigid or calm lose control of their emotions.
Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21)
Never one to be tied down, your take on NaNoWriMo is one of constant surprises and plot twists that even you won’t see coming until you’ve written them on the page. Indulge your passions and let your novel take you on that journey you’ve always desired. Be wary, however, of getting distracted by every idea that comes your way. Success for you lies in finding a balance between everything that’s possible and sticking with something that you’ll truly love.
Prompt: Make your secondary character the protagonist for a chapter. How does their perspective change the story?
Capricorn (December 22 – January 19)
You have never met a challenge you didn’t like. You know better than anyone that the hard work is what makes success so sweet, and you are poised to tackle your word count day after day. Use your joy in the daily grind to steadily achieve writerly success. Just be sure to tap into your awesome network of friends for encouragement and a reminder that—even in the midst of week 2 when your word-count gains don’t give you the same thrill—writing is, first and foremost, fun.
Prompt: Your character is taking a much deserved vacation. Where are they going? And what will be waiting for them when they get back?
Aquarius (January 20 – February 18)
Hands up if you’re a NaNo Rebel! Aquarian writers tend to be unconventional, offbeat, and nonconformist. However, you’re also as stubborn as they come, so you’ll get through November by sheer obstinacy. Remember to make time this month to enjoy the spirit of like-minded writers in your community and let that fuel your motivation to reach your goal.
Prompt: A character twists an ankle at an inopportune moment.
Pisces (February 19 – March 20)
You’re used to diving straight into your imagination and exploring the boundless world of your creativity! You know your characters as well as you know yourself: their triumphs are your triumphs, their struggles are your struggles. Remember not to get so swallowed up by your novel that you forget to take care of yourself this month. If you keep yourself grounded with realistic goals, you’ll make it to 50K with flying colors.
Prompt: Write a scene in which a character is not sure if they’re awake or dreaming.